Join Date: May 2008
Location: St. Albert, AB, Canada
There's a few things you can do with very little effort that will improve things. The first is to tire her out before you have company. I mean, tired to the point where she won't chase a toy, or play with another dog. You need to do that right before your family comes over. TBH I would put yer away while the family is over now...but work towards her being out. Behaviors like that often don't magically appear, you'll need to teach her what to do.
The second thing is to give her something awesome so shell be busy and calm whole she's away.
Ok, training her to be around guests. There's two parts to this; prevention and communication.
Prevention means putting her in a room when the guests are arriving. This dies a few things, the main one being allowing the guests to come in without being pounced and making sure her bad behaviors aren't being rewarded. It also keeps her out of the most exciting part, basically making it easier for her to behave.
Communication comes in once your guests have been settled. Bags down, shoes and coat off, drinks handed out, etc. Explain to your guests what the rules are about the dog, always from the standpoint of them helping you teach her good manners. No jumping, no feeding her, etc.
Once they are settled and understand the rules one of you goes to get your dog and brings her out ON A LEASH. This is prevention again. You can control her or bring her away if she's misbehaving or someone is allowing/encouraging her to break the rules. If she settles down you can drop the leash, but leave it attached so she's dragging it. This way you can go over and easily intervene if you see her getting too excited.
During dinner, or if there's food out, I'd just put her away entirely. It's too much temptation fur her, and for your guests.
As far as your sister and her kids go, try to see it from their perspective. If these kids aren't used to dogs a large one who jumps and gives kisses IS terrifying. Do you think expecting the kids to 'get over it' will teach them otherwise? Or would it help them learn differently if your dog was calm, under control, and they could approach her while she was lying down?
If you get your girl tired enough, and hold yummy treats right to her face, she can lie down and be much less scary to nervous kids.
Also, I know no one likes to consider this, but I'd your sister doesn't like dogs how do you think she'd react to having her kid knocked over? Pawed in the face? Etc. You would know your girl didn't mean any harm, but your sister and her scared kid would be much less likely to give 'that scary, out of control, beast' the benefit of the doubt. At the least you could be looking at a huge fight. At the worst...I've spoken to people who had relatives report a bite that was a scratch, or a play mouthing.